History of Lawrence, Pa.
From: Clearfield County, Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens
By: Roland D. Swoope, Jr.
Published By Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago


This township was erected by a decree of the court of quarter sessions, to which county Clearfield was then attached for judicial purposes, at November sessions, 1813.

The township is bounded on the north by part of the dividing line between Elk and Clearfield counties, on the east by Goshen, Bradford and Boggs townships, on the south by Knox township and on the west by Pike, Pine and Huston townships.

There are a number of large coal operations in this township, also some fine farms. The population of the township, according to the census of 1910, was 4,025.

No more accurate record of the early settlers of Lawrence can be made than by a full statement of the taxable inhabitants made by Samuel Fulton, assessor, under and by virtue of an order of the county commissioners, bearing date the 21st day of February, 1814, and signed by Hugh Jordon, Robert Maxwell and Wililiam Tate, commissioners.

The names of the taxables appearing on the roll are as follows: Elinor Ardery, John Andrews, Arthur Bell, Henry Buck, Samuel Beers, Arthur Bell, Robert Collins, George Conoway, Hugh Caidwell, Alexander Dunlap, James Dunlap, Hugh Frazier, John Frazier, Thomas Forcey, Samuel Fulton, William Hanna, Jacob Haney, Martin Hoover, Sam. uel Hoover, George Hunter, Esther Haney, John Hall, John Hoover, Henry Irwin, Hugh J ordon, Samuel Jordon, Thomas Jordon, Thomas Kirk, Thomas Kirk, Jr., John Kline, Nicholas Kline, William Leonard, Rudolph Litch, Lebbeus Luther, David Ligget, Richard Mapes, John Moore, Reuben Mayhew, Adam Myers, Moses Norris, Matthew Ogden, Daniel Ogden, John Owens, William Orr, Joseph Patterson, Robert Patterson, Thomas Reynolds, Alexander Reed, Thomas Reed, Archibald Shaw, Elisha Schofield, John Shaw, Richard Shorter, Mary Shirrey, Robert Shaw, Ignatius Thompson, William Tate, Robert Wrigley, George Welch, Herman Young, Peter Young.

The single freemen were: Andrew Allison, Samuel Ardery, Benjamin Beers, Benjamin Carson, Jr., Alexander Dunlap, Christian Eveon, Jacob Hoover, Caesar Potter, John R. Reed, Hugh Reynolds, William Shirrey, Hugh McMullen.

The settlers living in the Sinnamahoriing district were enrolled in a separate list. It will be remembered that the settlement down the river was made into an election district, and the voting place was fixed at the mouth of the Sinnamahoning, at Andrew Overdorf's house. The taxables of this district were: Stephen Barfield, Robert Barr, Daniel Bailey, Jacob Burch, Dwight Cadwell, Thomas Dent, Richard Galat, Joseph Gaugey, Levy Hicks, Wilham T. Hardy, Ralph Johnston, Thew. Johnston, James Jordon, John Jordon, Henry Lorghbaugh, Jr., Joseph Mason, Amos Mix, James Mix, William Nanny, John Overdorf, Andrew Overdorf, Andrew Overdorf, Jr., Samuel Smith, Charles Swartz, Curran Sweesey, Benjamin Smith, Jacob Miller, Leonard Morey.

The single freemen in the Sinnamahoning district were as follows: James Mix, Joseph Gaugey, James Sweezey, John Ream, John Biss, William Lewis, William Shepherd, George Lorghbaugh, William Calloway, George Derring.

The first reduction of the territorial limits of Lawrence township was made by the formation of Covington and Gibson, in the year 1817, by an order of the Centre County Court of Quarter Sessions.

In 1845, at a term of court held February 4, Goshen township was erected from Lawrence, Girard, and part of Jay and Gibson townships.

The early history of this township antedates, by many years, its civil organization. Withen its boundaries there was located the old Indian town of Chincleclamousche, the remains of which were discovered by Daniel Ogden, the pioneer, at the time of his settlement, in 1797. Still further back than this we find the country overrun and occupied by a fierce tribe of Indians known to the first white adventurers as the Lenni Lenapes, who made their central station On the river Delaware, and whose descendants occupied this whole region for a hundred years or more. Later on came the Shawnees, a supposed branch of the Algonquins, whose language they spoke. Then again, during the seventeenth century, the confederated nation of Iroquois, or the Five Nations, as they were commonly known, swept over the entire province of Pennsylvania, as well as the country north and south of it, driving out the occupants or completely subjugating them, and making themselves conquerors, and their chiefs and sachems rulers and monarchs of the entire country.

During the progress of the French and Indian war this vicinity was occupied by the French with view to erecting a fort, but this scheme seems to have failed. They did, however, assemble at the village of Chincleclamousche and organize an expedition against Fort Augusta, the key to the whole northwestern part of the province. Here it was that Captain Hambright came with orders to destroy the Indian town, and make battle against the inhabitants, but finding the town deserted returned to the fort with his men. On a subsequent visit the town was found to be destroyed, and the Indians fled to the protection of the French forts on the western frontier. The Indian paths, several of which led through the township, were thoroughfares of travel to and from the points east of the Alleghenies.

Daniel Ogden was the first permanent settler in this township, and made the first improvement therein. The chief industry at that time was farming and clearing land, and as new residents followed, each in succession was compelled to make a clearing for a cabin and farming purposes.

The necessity of lumber and material for building led to the erection of saw-mills at various places, and as the lands became cleared and crops gathered, grist-mills became a like necessity.

According to the tax-roll made by Samuel Fulton, assessor for Lawrence and Pike townships, in the year 1814, there were several industries already established in the township of Lawrence, some of which can be located with accuracy. Samuel Beers was assessed as having a tan-yard. Beers lived on Clearfield creek, and had a small tannery near his house. This factory was so small that it was assessed as nominal only. Martin Hoover had a sawmill on Montgomery Creek, and was assessed therefor fifty dollars, which amount would scarcely buy a cheap saw at the present day. J. L. McPherson's steam saw-mill was built near the same locality, which is one of the oldest mill locations in the county.

Esther Haney, widow of Frederick Haney, was assessed this same year for a saw and grist-mill on Montgomery Creek. The sawmill was assessed at fifty dollars, and the gristmill at thirty dollars. Thomas Haney, son of Frederick, had a saw-mill on Moose Creek.

Reuben Mayhew was the local shoemaker, and his trade assessed at ten dollars.

To Matthew Ogden attaches the credit of having built the first grist-mill in the county, on Moose Creek, about half a mile above its mouth. Some years later he built a saw-mill further down and moved his grist-mill to that point, near the site now occupied by Shaw's mill. In 1821 Ogden built another grist-mill on Clearfield Creek, which was operated for many years, but is now entirely destroyed.

Thomas Reynolds had a tannery in Clearfield town, that was built about the year 1810, btit no business of account was done there until some five or six years later. Another tannery was built by Jacob Irwin about 1820, just back of the Boyer residence on Second street.

In 1814-15, the Elder mills were built on Little Clearfield Creek by James I. Thorn, who came to the county for that purpose. The building consisted of a saw-mill, a fulling or woolen-mill, and a tavern. The woolen-mill was the first of its kind in the county, and the tavern among the first. Elder never resided in the county, but was largely interested in lands at that place. He is remembered as exceedingly kind and generous. He had many cattle at his place, and frequently loaned unbroken cattle to farmers, and allowed them to break and use them for their keeping.

In the Sinnamahoning district a record of taxables made in the year 1815 showed a total of forty-one. The roll also mentioned two saw-mills, one assessed to Thomas Dent and the other to John Jordan.

In 1813, a year after commissioners for the county were authorized to be elected therein, the population had increased sufficiently that a postoffice for the county was found necessary, and this was established at the house of Alexander Read, better known as "Red Alex." The neighborhood on the ridge where the Reads were numerous, was known as Readsboro, and the office was designated by that name. It was continued there until about the year 1819. The old State road passed through the place, and it was then the most central point, notwithstanding the fact that the site for the county seat had already been established at the old Indian town some two or three miles distant. Before this office was established all mail matter came from Philipsburg, on the extreme east line of the county, once each week.

At the time the county seat was fixed there was no improvement on the lands of Abraham Witmer, except such as had many years before been made by the Indians. The old cleared fields remained grown up with weeds and buffalo grass.

When Lawrence was made a township there were but few residents at the county seat proper, that is, Clearfield town. The first conveyances of town lots were made to Matthew Ogden, Robert Collins, and William Tate, in the year 1807. The donation of lands for county building and other purposes was made at the time the county seat was fixed, but the deed was not executed until 1813.

The court-house was erected about 1814 by Robert Collins about this time.

The township of Lawrence was declared, by an act of the Legislature passed April 2, 1821, to be a separate election district, and the freemen were directed to hold their elections at the court-house in Clearfield town. Having from this time a distinct and complete organization, settlement became more rapid, and consequent upon such settlement and growth and the development of its resources, this has become one of the leading townships of the county. The surrender of lands for the formation of Covington and other townships, while it reduced its area and population, made it more compact and more readily improved. The seat of justice, located in the southern central part of the township, became the natural trading and distributing center for the country roundabout.

The chief pursuit followed by the people of the township for many years, outside their regular occupation as farmers, was lumbering. Among the early mill erections was that built by Hopkins Boone, John and Maxwell Long and William Porter, on Clearfield Creek, about a quarter of a mile above the old Clearfield bridge, in or about the year 1833. The proprietors were considerably involved and the property was sold to Lewis Passrnore about ten or twelve years after its erection. The latter sold to John W. Miller, who removed the building and machinery for the erection of a saw and grist-mill on the creek opposite the old Elder mills, and were known as the Miller mills. They went to decay many years ago.

The first erection in the vicinity of "Porter's Mill," was made about 1836, by Philip Antes and George Leech, with an interest owned by Christopher Kratzer. A saw-mill on the east side of the river was first built. The property went to James T. Leonard on forced sale, but was afterward deeded to the Antes boys, and by them to William Porter and Philip C. Heisy. Porter bought the Heisy interest. The first grist-mill on the place was erected by William Porter in 1877, at a cost of nearly ten thousand dollars. It burned in 1882. Another mill was immediately erected in its place, larger and of greater capacity, at a cost of about seventeen thousand dollars. Subsequently the roller process machinery was introduced into this mill and was purchased by W. R. McPherson.

On the site of the Ferguson mills in the year 1842, George B. Logan and Thomas Read built a saw-mill on the south side of the river, and about 1850, built a grist-mill on the north bank. A division of the property was made by which Logan took the grist-mill. and Reed the saw-mill, but subsequently Logan became the owner of the whole property. About 1860 he sold to the Farmers' Company, but that was not a successful organization and the property came back to Logan again. In the early eighties George E. Ferguson became owner and proprietor. The dam across the West Branch was constructed at the time the first mill was built.

On the site formerly occupied by Matthew Ogden's pioneer mill on Moose Creek, there was built by Alexander Irvin, in the year 1830, a substantial grist-mill. Irvin sold to Richard Shaw, who operated it until his death, when it went to Richard Shaw, Jr.

About the year 1842, William Bigler and William Powell built a saw mill in the south part of the township, and afterward christened it the "Doniphan Mill," in honor of Colonel Doniphan of Mexican War fame. After Mr. Bigler's election to the office of governor of the State, the property went to the firm of G. L. Reed & Co. It has also been owned by Weaver and Betts, William Brown, Daniel Mitchell and again by Weaver and Betts.

The Ringgold Mill was built by George R. Barrett and Christopher Kratzer, in the year 1847, on Clearfield Creek, about half a mile from the railroad bridge, the cost being about seven thousand dollars. During the extremely high water on the creek that year, the mill was carried down stream to the river, and thence down to Karthaus bridge, where all trace of it was lost, no part ever being recovered. A new mill was immediately erected on the site of the former structure. Both of these were among the very best in the lumber country, the first being an unusually fine mill. It was a double mill, having two saws, and manufactured a large amount of lumber for that time. The dam built by the owners was very objectionable to raftsmen on account of its height, and many were the rafts and arks that went to pieces in attempting its passage. The property was afterward sold to Wilson Hoover, and burned while he owned it.

Although Lawrence is one of the pioneer townships of the county, and in all matters of county progress and advancement, she is not entitled to first honor in matters of education so far as the first school erected is concerned, but from the best authority obtainable, the second schoolhouse was built in the township in the year i8o6. This was located north and east from Clayville town nearly opposite the mouth of Clearfield Creek. Here the redoubtable Samuel Fulton taught, and was afterward followed by Miss Davis and Miss Goon. An old school was built about twenty rods above the covered bridge at Clearfield town, on the west side of the river within the limits of the present borough of West Clearfield. The exact date of its erection is unknown. Among the early teachers there can be remembered the names of John Campbell, Miss Brockway and Benjamin Merrell.

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